Tough new voice for watchdog
A SENIOR leader at the Productivity Commission is joining Australia’s corporate watchdog as the regulator ratchets up its efforts to crack down on misconduct.
Karen Chester will join the Australian Securities and Investments Commission as a deputy chair for a five-year term starting on January 28, succeeding Peter Kell.
She is expected to bring a voice for tougher enforcement and a strong focus on competition and improving outcomes for consumers.
It’s a further strengthening of the ranks at ASIC, which has been pummelled at the banking royal commission and by politicians and consumer groups for failing to tackle misconduct in the financial services sector.
Ms Chester is deputy chair at the federal government’s Productivity Commission, where she conducted a thorough review of ASIC’s enforcement failures in 2015.
ASIC has been gearing up to take a more aggressive footing in its dealing with rogue financial outfits with the appointment earlier this year of Daniel Crennan, QC, as chief litigator.
The appointment of Ms Chester will reinforce internal pressures for the regulator to take swift action against companies in court.
In Ms Chester’s current Productivity Commission inquiry into the $2.7-trillion superannuation sector, ASIC and sister agency the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority were heavily criticised for failing to ensure funds acted in members’ best interests.
Ms Chester is also a former Treasury official and economist with consultancy Deloitte Access Economics.